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Blair financial picture better than original budget

County expenses on target to exceed revenues by $453,000 by the end of 2021

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County is still expected to end the year in a financial hole but not as deep as first thought.

A review of Blair County’s financial picture for the first half of 2021 shows the county is on target to end the year with expenses exceeding revenue by $453,000.

The good news behind that projected shortfall is that it’s a lot less than the comparable $2.4 million that was estimated in the county’s 2021 budget.

“It is better, but it’s still a deficit,” Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb said Tuesday after county Finance Director Jennifer Sleppy finished her presentation.

Sleppy credited the projected improvement to expenses for the first half of the year coming in about 7 percent less than the budgeted amount of $24.53 million.

Her report showed salaries, through June 30, totaled $7.14 million rather than the budgeted $8.4 million.

While the 2021 budget numbers were adjusted to reflect less-than-full staffing levels, some county departments have been affected by recent economic trends of higher-than-usual job vacancies and difficulty hiring replacement employees.

Combined those factors have contributed to the county’s reduced spending as well as understaffing in some departments.

Sleppy’s report also showed 2021 revenue from real estate tax receipts to be ahead of budgeted projections and revenue from state and federal agencies to be lagging behind budgeted amounts.

Based on her examination of the revenue through June 30, she projected that the county’s total revenue by the end of the year could add up to $53.01 million. That would be about $2 million less than the 2021 budget’s revenue projection of $55.07 million.

But if expenses come in at $53.46 million as Sleppy projected, then the county’s reserve fund will need to cover a projected $453,000 deficit.

The financial presentation focused on 2021’s projected revenue and expenses and did not address the county’s cash reserve, also referred to as its fund balance. When adopting the 2021 budget, Sleppy said the county was starting 2021 with about $6.9 million in reserve.

That figure is expected to be revised when the county receives its pending 2020 audit report. That accounting is expected to reflect the $5.5 million the county received and retained from its $11 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allocation.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 815-956-7456.

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